Overall a solid update for the transcendent vest. The updated styling, wider baffles, and more casual-crossover designs make it a good-looking upgrade from past models. Color options are great (burnt orange/navy for me) and give us all that "I'm a grungy mountain person but know how to look good too" vibe we're all hoping for. The fit is better and the hand pockets are way more comfortable for actual warming of hands. Some folks might miss the zip pockets, but not me, the single snap is easy and holds in hats and gloves with ease. It's light, comfortable, and warm-ish. Which brings us to the sad part: the down. I have no qualms with using 650 fill-power, that's the earmark of the awesomely functional affordability of the transcendent lineup and it's great for most of our needs anyway. And using RDS down is awesome, thank you OR! The problem is the amount. In what I assume was an effort to keep it light (a hair under 9 oz. for my size medium), OR has skimped on the amount of down in the vest. The wider baffles sort of hide this problem visually. But once on, the vest easily gets cold spots and feels - I hate to say it - cheap. The wider baffles do allow more loft space (thumbs up!), but there's just not enough down in there to loft. I thought this would be my go-to winter layer from town to trail and even the extra puff on cold ski days, but I find myself grabbing other full-on jackets 90% of the time, just to have reliable warmth. While the style is on-point, the warmth and true backcountry functionality is lacking, making it more of a mountain style phenom than a full improvement over the previous models. I'd LOVE to see this same styling and design features with even just 1 oz. more down spread throughout. Until then, I don't think I can rely on this as much as the product description says I should.
Outdoor Educator Eli